The Beauty of the Divine Man

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In Isaiah we find an outrageous statement about Jesus:

2 …he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2 ESV)

Isaiah predicted Jesus would not have any natural beauty. Because Isaiah’s words are familiar we can easily overlook just how shocking these words are. The messiah of God—the ultimate human king—has no natural majesty or beauty that is appealing to humans.

Isaiah’s prophecy is demonstrated in the gospels. People were not in awe of Jesus’ appearance. If anything it was the opposite. He appeared very ordinary to them.[1]People did not show Jesus any unusual respect or attention on the basis of human appearance.

The subject of Jesus’ beauty is a paradox. On one hand He does not possess human beauty and yet He is the most beautiful man who has ever lived. He possesses beauty beyond any other human and yet does not possess what humans consider to be beautiful. The reason for this paradox is simple: 

Jesus’ beauty does not flow from His humanity, it flows from His divinity.

His divinity is what makes Him beautiful. He is not beautiful because He is the “ultimate man” according to what we consider valuable. He is beautiful because He demonstrates what God is like when He becomes a human. When we see Jesus we are seeing a divine human. All of His beauty flows from His divine nature. It is not a natural beauty—it is a transcendent beauty. It is a revelation of the beauty no man could see before God became human.

Moses could not see God’s beauty, but we can see it in the face of Jesus.[2]If we look at Jesus as a human and look for beauty we will not see it. If we see Him as God in a human body we will be staggered by the beauty of who He is.

Most pictures of Jesus are evidence we do not perceive the true nature of His beauty. We continue to create pictures of Jesus that present Him as a handsome, attractive man according to our cultural definitions of His beauty. For example, in the west Jesus is usually presented as an attractive white man with soft features. Our pictures of Jesus demonstrate we do not grasp the true source of Jesus’ beauty. Nearly all pictures of Jesus look nothing like a middle eastern man from the first century who has “no beauty we should desire him.” 

We are still captivated by human thinking and therefore we tend to make Jesus in our own image according to our own definition of beauty rather than allowing what Scripture has revealed about Him to redefine our understanding of true beauty.

Until we grasp the fact Jesus’ beauty flows from His divinity we will not see Him correctly and we will continue to view Jesus as a more perfect human. This view of Jesus produces a backward gospel. Jesus did not come to improve our humanity and make us more perfect versions of man. Jesus came to make us in the image of God.

So Christians are hoping to become ultimate humans through the gospel but that is not the hope of the gospel. The saints are not going to become “beautiful” humans. The gospel promises the saints will be humans transformed by demonstrating the beauty of God. Like Jesus our beauty is found in our how much of God is demonstrated in our frame. The New Testament warns us not to pursue beauty according to human terms because our beauty flows from the image of God in us, not because of our human form.[3]

The people of the Son of Man will be beautiful in the way He is beautiful. While He alone is divine, the saints are like Him because they have God dwelling inside of them through the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus, the beauty of the saints flows from the demonstration of God’s nature in us. The saints will never be beautiful the way “beautiful people” are in this age. Their splendor will flow from the degree to which God is expressed in their human form.

However, so long as we view Jesus as a beautiful human we do not fully grasp the gospel. His beauty flows from His divinity. In His human frame we would not find Him attractive according to human definitions of beauty. As a result, people continue to reject Him. If the Holy Spirit does not release revelation human rejection of Jesus is perfectly normal because He is not beautiful according to human definition. He is beautiful as God. 

If God is beautiful to us, Jesus will be beautiful. If God is not attractive to us, Jesus will be repulsive to us because He does not have any beauty outside His divinity.

[1]            Matthew 13:46, 55-58; Mark 6:4-5; Luke 4:22-24; John 12:34.

[2]            Exodus 3:6; 33:18-20; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6.

[3]            1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4.


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